BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
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Will Obama be cool or warm?

Justin Webb | 20:27 UK time, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

I am in Nashville and it's raining. I watched the two debaters arrive - Barack Obama with a jolly wave. Will he engage the audience tonight? Will he be professorial or Clintonesque?

I agree that John McCain has a lot hanging on this but so does Mr Obama - a cool performance (above my pay grade is NOT an acceptable answer to any question) keeps the jury out; a warm one could clinch it.

Chatting to his senior press spokesman Robert Gibbs, it becomes obvious that too much touchy-feely stuff is out of the question though.

He says the organisers have banned the candidates from asking questions of the audience (a real Clinton trick) for fear that it all gets too sentimental and huggy for prime time.

Several people write to say they enjoyed the poetry though it turns out to have been Auden not Larkin. I guess Larkin's view of dying was a tad more acerbic.

Still more point out that freedom and capitalism are not synonymous (how could I have suggested it) and that that there is a view of the current crisis - supported by serious economists - that says deregulation was to blame. This is an example.

The point is that the deregulation was sometimes aimed not at lining the pockets of the rich but at opening home-ownership to the poor. To suggest that it was simply about the rich is to get it (deliberately) wrong.

That Vanity Fair piece is worth looking at for the photo at the top though - a reminder of American imperfection at its most gut-wrenching.


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